PHILADELPHIA. Some people just don’t learn.
After the first five months of the city’s handheld cell phone ban for motorists, Philadelphia police have issued more than 7,600 citations, or roughly 47 per day, officials said last week.
The $75 citations began Dec. 1 after a 30-day warning period. Drivers are prohibited from talking or texting while driving. The ordinance also applies to those on skateboards, bicycles and rollerblades.
Police admit that it will take a while to change drivers’ habits, but ticketing is a good start.
“Just by the number of tickets, it’s showing that unfortunately people are still on their cell phones, but hopefully the number of tickets will begin to go down, which will show more compliance with the ordinance,” said Sgt. Ray Evers of Police Public Affairs.
Twenty-five states, Washington D.C. and Guam have some form of ban on handheld cell phones. Philadelphia is among several local municipalities that have enacted their own ban, which means state police don’t enforce it on city highways. Advocates say that lessens the effectiveness of the measure.
“What typically happens is when the law is first passed there’s a lot of excitement and energy [but] municipalities don’t really have the money necessary to enforce,” said Jonathan Adkins, spokesman for the Governors Highway Safety Association. However, the number of tickets issued in Philadelphia sounds aggressive, Adkins said.
“Sounds like perhaps they’ve been pretty active,” he noted. “We really have to address it like we did drunk driving and make it socially unacceptable.”